Historical Method In The Light Of Great Expectations
‘Books can be designed to influence and sometimes to change the economic, social, or cultural Circumstances in which they were produced (Eliot, P49, 2010)’. Eliot asserts that despite this, there will always be a feedback circle between the society’s relationship and its books, confirming that a generation of books can be a guide to the next generations to come (Eliot, P49, 2010). The book transmits history more than bibliography, where it’s distinguished as the material source. Books are the physical means by which literature is conveyed: thus, bibliography, the study of books, is essentially the discipline of the communication in literary leaflets (Eliot, P41, 2010). This certainly applies if we are treating literary work as only an object matter. Knowing that history is conveyed from one generation to the next through texts, we can’t distinguish history from text; thus, considering texts as an art for art’s sake. The identity and ideology of a literary work is always a subject to change and challenge among the social process; it’s a more compound issue than what we have in mind. It’s also an interaction and collaboration among each one that is included in the process: by the author, the publisher, the critics, and even the reader himself. The theory between the intrinsic and extrinsic approaches, always raise the bar of the ongoing debates. Interpreting the production process indicates that books go through what we call ‘communication circuit’, which stresses that it views that text is consuming a life progression which begins with its creation by an author or authors (Eliot, P.53,2010). In the light of this, this essay will discuss how knowing the history affects our understanding and interpretation of any literary piece, adopting the novel ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens, with the analysis of the reasons behind the two endings.
‘The historical context is an essential and dynamic aspect for a further understanding of a literary work, whereby. Historical context includes the circumstances, which accrue around the time where the work goes viral, the means in which it’s necessary to look beyond the techniques found in papers. Historical context is an important part of life and literature, and without it, memories, stories, and characters have less meaning. Historical context deals with the details that surround an occurrence. In more technical terms, historical context refers to the social, religious, economic, and political conditions that existed during a certain time and place. Basically, it’s all the details of the time and place in which a situation occurs, and those details are what enable us to interpret and analyse works or events of the past, or even in the future, rather than merely judge them by contemporary standards (www.thoughtco.com)’. Any literary work is published to a certain reader at a certain time. Taking account on this means that we are reading more than a text, seeing more than a page illustration. Basically we are witnessing a culture, traditions, different writing formation, simply a turn on the use of language. While Greethnam and others were keen on the implication of taking into consideration how any feature of physical communications can give an influence on reading, and on the analysis of a certain book, other critics, disagree to connect the physical appearance with the verbal content, favouring to focus on the meaning (Greetham, Pp335-346,1994).
Looking forward on the analysis, thus, understanding the novel “Great Expectations”, which took place in London, at a time when living conditions in England were raised by many writers. The novel was published as a series in a weekly magazine to boost the sales of the magazine. This created an interesting reaction from the public; thus, having a continuous feedback. We learned later that the original copy that Charles Dickens intended to release was replaced by another ending. Albert argues that Dickens himself intended to bring the panoramic ending to a cultural crisis (Albert, P40, 1978). Dickens wrote to change and invoke reality, making a revolution. This can justify the change of the ending. Later, the original copy got published, whereby many critics agreed and supported the original copy, saying that it was more linked to the Author’s intentions, but at the same time, there were critics who supported the alternative ending.
Tarr asserts that the original ending – where Estella remarried after the death of Drummle, while Pop remains single- supports the tone and theme of the rest of the novel, because if we may distill all the events of the novel, this ending is the most suitable, since it portrays the overall into a one connected piece, though it means that the story ending is not a happy one. Reflecting the intentions of Charles into the world, he tried to explain that happiness is not guaranteed. Moreover, Estella’s marriage matches her characterization as selfish (www.study.com).’Many critics prefer the original ending to the revised version, because it is the ending that Dickens himself decided to write without consulting anyone. Many people believe that since Bulwer-Lytton gave Dickens input on the second ending that it is not as true. Although Dickens may have inadvertently been plagiarizing, the original ending is the way that Dickens felt the novel should end, as opposed to the way Bulwer-Lytton felt it should end’ (www.bartleby.com/).
The alternative ending stresses on the social process more than the author’s intentions. Dickens enjoyed being on the road, loved to hear the feedback; therefore, the social process managed to change Charles Dickens’ intentions about the ending. Tanselle and others, materialist textual critics, worry that the social construction of import out of the physical codes is associated with the social acceptance of these transcripts’ authority and legitimacy. Hereafter technical information and critical interpretations are imperfect with one another. All characteristics of a book’s history are integral to its meaning and interpretation. Textual criticism was wedged between those who claim the universality of literature and aim to find the flawless copy that represents the ideal human experience, and those who claim that literature is the product of unified social; economic; political; and ideological aspects, and that any investigation of literature should account for these dynamics (Greetham, Pp335-346, 1994).
McGanns talks about the importance of the historical method, through a modern literary theories. That every piece of art is the manufacture of collaboration between the author and a variety of social elements, works of an artist are manufactured by a wildly different times and places by many kinds of people, in a diverse of textual constitutions. The aim of an analytic criticism is to separate and classify the various social factors, and to explain collaboration among them (McGann, Pp289-304, 2013). In the light of Great Expectations, we acknowledge that the relationship Dickens had with the public interpretation led to a total exchange of an ending, which seemed to be more realistic to the population, a site of hope that was lacking during that period of time. In this sense, it is to be shown that Dickens’ intentions were way beyond fame; they held a heart that moves with the harmony of a nation that needed to be changed. This leads us to realize that what Dickens did in the context is proved by MacGan’s judgment.
After looking at the social process in ‘Great Expectations’, editors use to collect copies to be ready for analysis and to identify the difference between them. Whereas distinguishing the true intentions of the author, having two different endings to the novel, poses a challenge to us and creates discussions between ‘pro and cons.’ Up until now, what has been presented thus far is the editorial approach taken by text scholars some centuries ago. The basic idea through which they worked is that a copy of the author’s work should achieve as much as possible his/her intentions, usually meaning final intentions. Editors may have discussed what they should do when the authors seemed to have changed their intentions significantly over time; but everyone embraced the fact that the goal was to place the texts as intended by their authors. When the rest of the text was defective or not complete, the editor was obligated to attempt to rebuild what the author might have intended. (Owens, pp80-90, 2010) “The social process continues as the new and different forms of people who show work dealt with by different publishers and read in different forms by successive generations of readers. In particular, they stress the extent to which the physical coordination of texts operates as part of the meaning. For McKenzie The book itself is a sensitive means, From McGanns’ perspective, editors should be careful not only about ‘linguistic codes’, but also ‘bibliographical codes’, by which the format, layout, typography, paper, and envelopes are meant from publications. All this raised questions about Greg Powers’ assumption’ (Owens, pp81, 2010).
The debate among followers of the Greg Bowers model contributed to reaching a selective edition versus critics of the social process such as Tansel, who rejected the hierarchical structure of the trusted class versus the variables that contributed to the current debate among textual critics, and led to different responses and positions even among opponents of the Greg Bowers’ model. It is also based on Stanley Fish’s ‘interpretive communities’ where “textual meaning is constructed by a social construct with which the transmitted text operates, rather than by an appeal to the intentions of a now-absent author.” McGann’s name and reputation is based on his trusted version of Byron for Oxford, which began with the traditional international method of deciding on a scholarly edition. His study of Byron showed the importance of the historical context. His theory influenced social textual criticism that focused on the influence of bibliographic symbols as well as “the linguistic codes on the construction of the textual meaning” which has had its effect on many other scholars.
The meaning of a piece of literary is very important, but taking a text as separated from its original context and circumstances frame the meaning as abstract ideas and connotations. The thing that makes it misinterpreted. Thus, a comprehensive view of the historical, social, economic and political circumstances sheds the light on the exact intentions of the writer and his messages within the text. This is aligned with the importance of studying the text’s physical format, as well as inspecting the bibliographic codes the author uses. Literature can change history, and on this statement, we infer that sometimes authors intend to make a difference in the surrounding environment with their writings more than bringing its gloominess to the text. Historical Method helps taking into consideration the past, understand the present, and even predict the future. This approach is an evidence that a book is an ideological influence and change cultures and societies. Also the meaning can be found in its process of editing, producing and publishing. Historical Methods in my point of view has to go a long Bibliography, to get a better percentage of cognitive skills toward understanding a literary work.